Let me paint the scene: You come home from a long day of work, pull up to your house, and you can’t park in your spot. Or, maybe you have to dodge a number of cars on your street just to get to your house. That’s right, I’m talking about street parking in illegal scenarios, and what you can do about it.
The best course of action is to record the make, model, plate number, and location of the car. Take photos for proof. Reach out to your local Parking Enforcement Department, talk to neighbors, leave a note on the car, or call your local PD to get a resolution. If the car is preventing you from parking in a private spot or on your driveway, you can legally have the vehicle towed. If you live in an apartment, condo, or HOA area, reach out to the main office and complain as well.
In this guide, I’ll explain exactly how to complain about parking on your street. It could be one car blocking your driveway, or a dozen cars illegally parked on your street.
Why Streetside Parking Is Annoying
I’ve lived in a lot of areas where streetside parking is a huge issue. Personally, I can come up with a lot of reasons why it shouldn’t be allowed — more specifically, how it’s dangerous and annoying.
It Blocks Your View of Pedestrians
There’s no doubt that people are going to try to cross the street at some point. With cars parked on the side of the road, your view of pedestrians is blocked. A person can dart out from between two cars, and you’ll have no reaction time at all.
As a result, there’s a higher likelihood that you’ll hit someone as they cross the street. You might think that it’s the pedestrian’s fault anyway, but what about kids, people with disabilities, or someone who’s drunk? With no cars on the side of the road, you can be a defensive driver and avoid the situation altogether.
You Have a Narrower Lane to Drive-in
When a car parks on the street, suddenly there’s less street. You can’t hit them, so now you have to thread the needle and drive on a narrower lane.
This makes it harder to avoid cars. Street-parked vehicles can get side-swiped as drivers misjudge the size of their car or slightly swerve to avoid another obstacle.
It’s just making things harder for everyone who drives on that road.
Harder to Ride a Bike on the Road
I’ve seen situations where a biker ran into the turned tires of a parked car. If the steering wheel is completely turned when the car is parked, the wheels will stick out further than the car.
Bike lanes are already so narrow and rare. Riding a bike becomes even harder when cars park on the side of the road. If a bike rider runs into a car, they can fall off their bike and land in the middle of the road where cars are driving — potentially risking their lives.
It Invites People to Stalk from Their Car
Maybe I just watch too much TV, but I always wonder if someone is staking a place from their parked car. If their windows are tinted or it’s nighttime, it’s hard to see inside of a car.
There’s a chance that the driver is stalking someone or looking to commit a crime. With parked cars removed from the street, it becomes more obvious when someone is up to no good.
It Potentially Blocks Driveways
In more extreme cases, a car can impede your ability to get in and out of your driveway. I’ve had it a few times where the front half of a car was blocking my driveway and I had no other option. In my opinion, once a car starts blocking driveways, the gloves come off and the tow truck gets called.
Another scenario is where the car is parked across the street behind your driveway. That still makes it a lot harder to turn into your driveway and back out of it. Again, it’s an inconvenience that could prevent you from parking in your driveway.
If you’re in the “if it doesn’t impact me, I don’t care” mindset, this is probably a situation where you’ll take action.
Should You Really Complain?
I know that people are going to be split over this, but should you complain about parking on your street? In my opinion, yes. Street parking in the wrong areas is illegal, dangerous, and irritating to residents of that area.
By complaining, you’re simply raising the issue to a higher authority. From there, they can determine what to do.
How to Complain About Parking on Your Street
Now, let me get into the specifics. This section is all about how you should complain about cars parked on your street.
Determine if the Car Is Just Broken Down
Before getting too far, you should ensure the car is illegally parked and not just broken down. If it’s an old, shoddy-looking car, there’s also a chance that the owner simply abandoned it there. Of course, that’s still a huge issue.
If the car is broken down, it might have a white towel hanging from the driver’s window. In this case, the owner might be waiting to call a tow truck or they need to wait for their next paycheck to get it towed and repaired.
It’s still against the law and inconvenient to you, but I might suggest waiting a week or so. That is unless it’s blocking your driveway or in your parking spot — in that case, I would act immediately.
Learn Your Local Rules
The best place to start is in your local area. These rules will be the easiest to go after because they’ll be enforced by smaller groups, meaning that you’ll have a better chance of getting a resolution.
If you live in a neighborhood, condo association, or you have an HOA in your area, start there. Find out what their specific rules are for parking in the area. You can also look on the street to see if there are signs that dictate how people may park.
For instance, your condo association might say that parking streetside is against their terms. If that’s the case, you’ll reach out to the office of the association and report the vehicle. There’s a very good chance the problem will be fixed as soon as you do that.
If you don’t meet any of the criteria I just spelled out, that’s not a problem, just keep going down this list.
Understand Your State’s Laws
The next-best resource is going to be your state’s website. Most states have a pretty comprehensive breakdown of different laws and rules.
There’s a chance that you’ll find more information about how your state penalizes illegal parking if the parking is even illegal in the first place, and what you can do to get help.
This should only take a quick search online. Make sure you’re using the “.gov” website so you get the best answers.
Get Information from the Car
Once you’ve established that the parking is illegal, then you should get basic information about the car.
At a minimum, you should write down the make, model, color, license plate number, and location of the vehicle. It’s a good idea to get an exact location.
Make sure you write it all down, so you don’t forget it.
Take a Picture for the Record
In addition to writing down information, you should also take a few pictures. This will give definite proof that the car was illegally parked, so it doesn’t turn into a “he said, she said” situation. If possible, use a piece of paper to note the date and time that you’re taking the photo for reference.
The pictures should show the car, where it’s parked, and its general location. It’s also a good idea to get at least one that has the full plate number in view.
Talk to Neighbors
Before you take this information to the authorities, it’s a good idea to start asking around. I’ve been in situations where a simple conversation fixed the parking issues I was having.
If you live on a residential street, try to get a hold of one of your neighbors nearby. Ask them if it’s their car or if they know whose it is. If you can have a conversation with the owner of the car, you can get a faster solution without wasting more time or effort.
However, you shouldn’t approach them angrily or threaten them — that will almost definitely make things worse. Just explain that their parking is unsafe, against the law, and it’s negatively impacting you.
If they’re receptive and change where they park, then you don’t have to worry anymore. If they’re dismissive and don’t care, or you can’t find out whose car it is, it’s time to take other action.
Leave a Note
I’ve visited friends before and didn’t even realize that street parking was illegal in that area. I came back to my car the next morning and found a nice letter on it explaining the parking issue. I felt embarrassed, but it helped me avoid making the same mistake next time.
If you don’t recognize the car, then it might help to write a quick letter to them explaining the situation and leave it under their windshield wiper. Being a friendly and helpful neighbor can help stop the problem. There’s a chance that the driver simply didn’t know and won’t repeat the same mistake.
Report it Online
Personally, I always go through an online portal when it comes to reporting cars parked on my street (if I can’t find out whose car it is and have a conversation with them). If you rent your place, management should have a website you can visit to file a complaint.
Most of the sites I’ve used have been really easy to understand and follow. To start, Google “report illegal parking” and the state you’re living in. For instance, “report illegal parking Tennessee”.
This will take you to your state-level resource to file an online complaint. There might be a few states that don’t have this research, but more often than not I’ve quickly found exactly what I was looking for.
The online page will take the vehicle information, location, any pictures, and when the car was parked there. From there, the information will be passed on to different authorities that will follow up and issue a penalty for the car.
They might ask for your phone number, name, and email. This is to follow up with you later and give you a status update.
Call the Local Parking Enforcement Department
If you want a more immediate answer, then you should call your local “Parking Enforcement Department”. This is a fancy phrase that essentially translates to “parking police”. These are the people that have the authority to tow or penalize cars that are illegally parked.
To get a hold of them, you can either look up their number or call your town’s police number. They will be able to direct your call, but never call 9-1-1 looking for the parking enforcement department — that line is for emergencies only and you can actually get penalized for misusing it.
My suggestion is to keep calling until you talk to a live representative. Leaving a voicemail might work, but it also means that it could get lost or ignored. You want to talk to someone and explain your situation.
Remember the reason for your call: you don’t want people to illegally park on your street. As long as you’re patient and nice to the person on the phone, there’s a good chance that they’ll help you out.
Call a Tow Truck (if You’re Allowed to)
You can also call a tow truck to remove the car. This should only be reserved for certain situations, and you need to carefully study its legality first.
I lived in an apartment complex that had very competitive parking. Residents had to pay a few hundred dollars a month for a reserved and dedicated spot (as in, I could only park in spot #1105 because that’s the spot I pay for).
The rule was you could call the tow truck if someone was in your spot. The tow truck comes, tows the car away, then you happily park in your designated spot.
If you live in a situation that has a rule like this, then go ahead and call a tow truck. It might royally upset the person who parked there, but there are some times that you have no choice. You shouldn’t feel guilty for towing a car that was illegally parked and inconveniencing you.
If the car is parked in your driveway or blocking your driveway, you should call a tow truck. This is against the law and there’s no excuse for it.
You may also legally tow a car that’s parked on public property if it’s a traffic hazard. You’ll need to prove that it’s a hazard and you can get penalized if the car was wrongfully towed, so be careful.
No matter how you report the car, you should follow up. If you don’t hear anything back for 3 days and the car is still parked there, then it’s worth sending a follow-up email or phone call.
I’d imagine that these departments get calls and emails all the time, so I could understand if something got lost or forgotten about.
By following up, you’re reminding them that the car parked on your street is still an issue.
Now you know exactly how to complain about parking on your street. I personally know how annoying and dangerous it is, so I hope you find a solution to your problem soon. If you followed the steps I outlined, you should.
For more car-related questions, check out the rest of my blog. Leave a comment below if you were in a similar situation and what you did to stop the cars from parking there. As always, be sure to check out my list of helpful car products.